Variations of extracellular dopamine (DA ext ) levels in prefrontal cortex were assessed by in vivo microdialysis. In rats trained in an operant fixed interval (FI 30s ) schedule of food delivery, acute exposure to contingent foot shocks resulted in a suppression of responding that was reversed by diazepam (4 mg/kg, ip). No changes in cortical DA ext levels occurred during this period in both control and treated rats. By contrast, in control rats, cortical DA ext levels increased (+25–40%) during the nonpunished component of the operant session, and during noncontingent food delivery (+25%). Control rats placed into an unfamiliar brightly lit openfield exhibited a marked increase in cortical DA ext levels (+100%). This effect occurred neither in rats given diazepam at a dose (2 mg/kg) which stimulated motor activity, nor during a second exposure to the openfield. In conclusion, a benzodiazepine-sensitive activation of mesoprefrontal DA neurones is induced by exposure to novel stressful surroundings and by food availability and consumption. The fact that cortical DA ext levels remained unchanged in rats that exerted complete control upon negative stimuli indicates that an activation of the mesoprefrontal DA system is not required for punishment-induced behavioural blockade.
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2001
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